Pennsylvania Republican Laments Jan. 6 Convictions: ‘Is This Really America?’

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) expressed outrage at the jailing of people convicted of crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot in a Thursday night debate with his Democratic rival , Dan Shepherd.

Asked by WICU Erie News Now debate moderators how he felt about the deliberations of the House Select Committee investigating the causes of the riots and calling for the committee to subpoena former President Donald Trump, Kelly characterized it as a witch hunt partisan and emphasized his anger with law enforcement’s response to the riots.

“Should it have happened? Absolutely not,” Kelly said of the Capitol attack. “The relentless pursuit of this president, regardless of any information that is gathered, should be shocking to anyone living in this country.”

“I understand and totally agree: January 6th should never have happened,” Kelly added. “But when you look at some of the people who are still incarcerated with no way out, you wonder: Is this really America? Is this really America?”

Kelly correctly pointed out in the debate that there are only two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee — Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — and both are longtime Trump critics. He did not mention, however, that the committee exists in its current form because House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) rejected the idea of ​​a fully independent, bipartisan commission.

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“The vast majority of witnesses at these hearings were either Capitol Police or actually Republicans,” replied Pastore, a businessman and attorney. “What does he propose? That we just brush it under the rug?”

“It’s important that we get to the bottom of it, and that’s what we’re trying to do at the Jan. 6 hearings,” Pastore added.

At another point in the debate, Kelly explained his loss of faith in the federal government.

Dan Pastore, a businessman and attorney, is challenging Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), who continues to cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 presidential election results.
Dan Pastore, a businessman and attorney, is challenging Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), who continues to cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 presidential election results.

Kelly is one of the 147 House Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election later the day after the Capitol riot. He had previously sued to invalidate Pennsylvania’s 2.5 million ballots on the grounds that approval by the GOP-controlled state legislature absentee vote without excuse violated the Pennsylvania constitution. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority, dismissed the suit in November 2020.

Pastore pressed Kelly later on whether he still believes the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from Trump.

Kelly declined to give a direct answer, instead emphasizing his continued skepticism about the fairness with which it was administered.

“My opponent can say anything he wants: ‘He won’t accept,’ ‘He won’t accept,’ ‘He won’t accept,'” he said. “What I will not accept is the destruction of America and the trust we have to have in our government and in our elections.”

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Pastore condemned Kelly in a Friday statement provided to HuffPost, calling Kelly “an embarrassment to western Pennsylvania.”

“His comments show he is unfit to hold public office,” Pastore said. “I’m running for Congress to defend the law of the land and support law enforcement. Mike Kelly stands with violent criminals and attacks the men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe” .

“Mike Kelly believes it is unfair that violent criminals who attacked the police and tried to overthrow our government are serving time in prison, and that is outrageous,” he added. “Kelly’s attack on federal law enforcement shows he has no respect for the law and those who protect us.”

Kelly, a six-term incumbent, is the heavy favorite to win re-election in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, which covers the northwest corner of the Keystone State. In 2020, Trump defeated President Joe Biden among voters in the district more than 20 percentage points.

Pastore’s struggle to raise large sums of money has prevented him from advertising on television until the time of the race.


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